Coding Edison Robots with EdBlocks

Today in day 2 of our holiday robotics camp for 2nd through 5th graders, students started writing code for their Edison Robots using EdBlocks. Like Scratch Junior, EdBlocks is a simplified, block-based coding language which allows younger students (ages 7-12) to program and control a robot. Yesterday, students started by using Barcode Programming. By advancing to EdBlocks, students were able to create their own programs on iPads and download them to their Edison Robots via an “EdComm cable,” which is an audio cable that sends digital signals similar to the way “old school” modems worked.

One student group used the musical functions in EdBlocks to program the song, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” Another group used the “messaging” feature and infrared blocks to send messages between robots, so they could code a ‘dance party.’ I was very proud of all the student groups and the way they demonstrated persistence in problem solving various bugs and challenges in their algorithms.

We started our day with a design challenge, to design and plan a robot which would help our planet and environment. Students used Lego bricks to create a static version of their robot ideas. We then watched a clip from the movie, “Walle,” and did a “See, Think, Wonder” thinking routine. Students wondered about how the trash got so bad in Walle’s world, what happened to all the people as well as the other Walle robots which were not functioning, and thought about feelings and emotions which Walle had working on earth in that situation.

For this day, we used our iPads, and each student was able to build their own code. We shared the Edison Robots, and took turns downloading their programs into the robots. Students worked mostly in self-selected groups. It is interesting to observe the ways students choose to work in our camp, especially since we have a wide range of ages that is different from a “traditional” or regular classroom. I love this multiage aspect of our break camps because it allows students to share their ideas and expertise regardless of their age or grade. In a robotics camp like this, we are all learners and can all be teachers!

In this 2 minute video, one of our third grade girls explains how she coded her Edison robot to pick up trash. This was her first experience with coding and robotics. I was so pleased with how she developed her computational thinking skills and applied her creative imagination!

I’m looking forward to continuing to use our Edison Robots with my 3rd grade STEM students when we get back to class after our holiday break. This robotics camp provided a good opportunity for Michaela Freeland (@_mfreeland) and I to both get a better understanding of how some of our youngest students can both learn and apply their coding skills through robotics!

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